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PREVIOUSLY ARCHIVED RECORD REVIEWS FROM MY OLD BLOG 'FLOWER BOMB SONGS'


Here are some of my random thoughts and words about obscure and in-demand ’60s garage and psychedelic singles over the years. All of the original blog posts on my old website have since been deleted so no label scans or picture sleeves are available. Instead, I’ve used images scanned from a 1967 Playboy magazine.

RICHARD AND THE YOUNG LIONS – ’Open Up Your Door’/’Once Upon Your Smile’ (Philips 40381) July 1966

The trilogy of Richard and the Young Lions singles began with this pounding garage slab of teen spirit made even more memorable due to the abundance of loud fuzz bass and the distinctive sound of an African hair drum that gives the tune a memorable pulsating drive.

The group hailed from Newark, New Jersey and were led by the tall and skinny Richard Tepp who appears to have been obsessed by Mick Jagger. He borrows Mick’s vocal delivery to great effect here and I’ve seen the clip of Richard and the Young Lions performing ’Open Up Your Door’ on TV Show Swingin’ Time (aired September 1966) and he’s pinched some of Mick’s stage moves.

The flip ’Once Upon Your Smile’ is slow paced moodiness with some brass and organ. Both songs were written by songwriters Larry Brown and Raymond Bloodworth who were recording artists in their own right and released records as The Distant Cousins.

The record sold well, some copies coming housed in a picture sleeve.

(22/03/11)

RICHARD AND THE YOUNG LIONS – ’Nasty’/’Lost And Found’ (Philips 40414) December 1966

The follow-up to ’Open Up Your Door’ proved to be a frustrating flop. I’m surprised ’Nasty’ didn’t fare better because it’s another winner with it’s garage fuzz power bombs and Richard Tepp’s Jaggerisms. This could almost be The Rolling Stones in truth.

Both sides were written by the same song writing team as before, this time around the flip ’Lost And Found’ is a gentle ballad with commercial appeal.

(23/03/11)

RICHARD AND THE YOUNG LIONS – ’You Can Make It’/’To Have And To Hold’ (Philips 40438) February 1967

The third and final Richard and the Young Lions single was the garage classic ’You Can Make It’ which again kept to their usual sound of pounding drums and fuzz action. Sadly though the record stayed well clear of any decent chart position and the group were dropped by Philips, never to be heard of again.

I first heard ’You Can Make It’ on the all time classic 80s garage compilation ’What A Way To Die’ and when I started collecting original 60s garage and psych singles this killer slab of wax was high on my wants list.

line-up:

Richard Tepp
Fred Randall
Lou Vlahakes
The Twig
Bob Freedman

(24/03/11)

THE GORDIAN KNOT – ’The Year Of The Sun’ (Verve V6-5062) 1968

According to the liners on the back of The Gordian Knot studio album ’Tones’, the group relocated from Mississippi to the go go wonderland named Hollywood, Los Angeles. This proved to be a good move because their multi layered harmony pop was perfect ear fodder for the sunshine set.

They rubbed shoulders with film stars and influential music people, playing private party gigs for Richard Harris, Natalie Wood and Eddie Fisher. They managed to secure a six month residency at P.J’s in 1967, then in August of that year opened a new hip joint called The Factory.

By 1968 they had enough of their own material to record an album and entered MGM/Verve Studios in L.A. with producer Clark Burroughs. He had recently performed production duties on many of The Association’s hits. According to the Verve Records Catalogue (this can be found online) The Gordian Knot recorded all of the songs found on their album on the 26th March 1968.   

’The Year Of The Sun’ is pure pop perfection with soaring complex harmonies, flute and acoustic guitar. The song was lifted from the album and released as a single with ’If Only I Could Fly’ but it was unfairly overlooked.

(26/02/11)

THE GORDIAN KNOT – ”We Must Be Doing Somethin’ Right” / ”Broken Down Ole Merry-Go-Round” (Verve VK 10612) July 1968

With a running time of four and a half minutes ’Broken Down Ole Merry-Go-Round’ was clearly intended as an album track but the song found it’s way on the flip of this single release. The instrumentation is minimal as the song is heavily arranged in favour of the angelic three part harmonies.

There’s also room for a weird mid song break where it goes English toytown but then reverts back to  melancholic pop psychedelia

According to information from an issue of Billboard in March 1968, The Gordian Knot were scheduled to make a TV appearance on The Steve Allen Show on 28/03/68. Maybe one day that performance will end up on YouTube.

(02/03/11)

GENE CLARK – ’Only Colombe’/’The French Girl’ (Sundazed 192) rec April 1967

Yesterday’s posting of ’The French Girl’ by The Daily Flash got me thinking about the very obscure take that Gene Clark recorded in April 1967.

His version was slated as the B-side of ’Only Colombe’ for a single release to maintain his profile after the disappointing reception of the studio album ’Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’.

Unfortunately, the single was cancelled and Gene Clark left Columbia Records. The recordings were produced by Gary Usher and arranged by the legendary Curt Boettcher with vocal support by his group The Ballroom. The same collection of musicians worked with Tommy Roe when he recorded ’Moon Talk’, reviewed previously on my site.

Both songs would remain unheard until 1991 when a posthumous CD collection of Gene’s work was released shortly after he died at the age of 46. Those fine folks at Sundazed released this excellent retrospective 45 in 2008 using the mono mixes.

(06/03/11)

THE DAILY FLASH – ’The French Girl’/’Green Rocky Road’ (UNI 55001) January 1967

Back in the 60s Seattle was the centre of a regional rock scene and perhaps The Daily Flash were one group from that scene who had the talent to break out nationally. The fact that they failed is a mystery.

They relocated to Los Angeles in 1966 and made a name for themselves playing numerous gigs at The Whiskey A Go Go. The group even secured performances on TV shows, Boss City and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

’The French Girl’ was released during late January 1967 but made little impression in most areas apart from Seattle where it went Top 10. It’s such a great baroque pop highlight and deserved a better fate.

Surprisingly, it’s only been compiled once before, way back in 1988 on the vinyl LP Baubles collection put out by Big Beat. 

Apart from the cool Psycho album, there are some ace Daily Flash tracks (in mono!) on a neat coloured vinyl EP on Sundazed. The Greek magazine ”Time” did an interview with them and on the free CD there is a cover of CC Rider by the ‘Flash from ’66.

(15/03/11)

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH – ’Liza Jane’/’Witness People’ (Colgems 66-5003) April 1969

The Fountain Of Youth were a teen group from Fredericksburg, Texas who previously recorded as The Crossfires releasing the following 45:  ’Who’ll Be The One’/’Making Love Is Fun’ (Tower 278)… They came to the attention of the Colgems label who signed them in March 1968 (there is a mention in a Billboard magazine from this time)..

Looking at the promo pic of The Fountain Of Youth it shows the teenagers to be a clean cut, square looking combo in psychedelic shirts. By the time of this single, their 4th for Colgems,  I’d be surprised if they looked as wholesome as this.

’Liza Jane’ was released in April 1969 and is typical bubblegum pop of that time period. The jewel is the heavy psych flip ’Witness People’… There isn’t that much information around about The Fountain Of Youth but they seemingly had a lead singing drummer!

Richard Podolor produced their Colgems singles. He also worked with psych outfit The Glass Family, The Starfires, The Standells, The Chocolate Watch Band and many more I’m sure. 

line-up:

Jimmy Panza (lead vocals & drums)
Gary Itri (bass & vocals)
Gary Jenschke (lead guitar & vocals)
Ken Molberg (rhythm guitar & vocals)

Readers comments:
Ken Molberg (the guy with the glasses) had left the band at this point and isn’t featured on this song. He’s a lawyer now.

Ken Molberg is a Judge in Dallas.

I went to high school with all four of these men. I knew them well. I just found out today that Gary Itri (second from left) has passed away.

(14/03/11)

THE LEWIS & CLARKE EXPEDITION – ’Why Need They Pretend?’/’Chain Around The Flowers’ (RCA Victor 66-1022) April 1968 (German release)

The Lewis And Clarke Expedition released a handful of 45s and an album on Colgems and are long overdue some kind of retrospective CD compilation. This single from April 1968 was featured in the movie ’For Singles Only’ and was not on their studio album.

’Why Need They Pretend?’ is laid back acoustic pop psych with strings and flute. I really DIG this! 

Singer songwriter Travis Lewis (real name Michael Murphey) went on to have success in Country music.

(12/03/11)

SHARKES & ME – “Buses”

Thanks to a tip off from Wilthomer here’s Dutch group Sharks & Me with their freakbeat version of ’Buses’. It was compiled on Rubble Volume 9 s/t ’Plastic Wilderness’ (Bam Caruso KIRI 079) 1991.

Here are the liner notes from that compilation:

”While we’re in Amsterdam let’s check out Sharks & Me , who formed in ’65 and consisted of Wim de Vries (bass, vocals), Lia de Vries (vocals), Kees Meuren (drums), Lex Luft (guitar) and Dick Dickens (guitar). They made only two singles before metamorphosing into Mayflower.

THE HUNG JURY – ’Buses’/’Let The Good Times In’ (Colgems 66-1010) Oct 1967

Colgems unknowns The Hung Jury released this puzzling 45 in October 1967. Nothing much has been written about the combo and no guides list the record, so all in all they’ve had scant recognition.

This is a shame because ’Buses’ is a memorable sunshine pop tune and has that perfect summer of ’67 sound with pleasing vocals and tinny organ.

’Buses’ then bursts out of the sunshine and into the darkness with a twenty second thrill ride of controlled fuzz guitar. A complete and welcome surprise.

The song writing team of Parker and Moeller wrote ’Buses’…Thomas Moeller was the keyboardist in UK beat group Unit 4+2 and they wrote most of their strongest material. The producer Chris Houston (surname more often Huston) was lead guitarist in another English group The Undertakers.

A full page advert in Billboard October 1967 signalled the beginnings of The Hung Jury. Colgems seemingly had more in store for them but this was their first and last release.

The Hung Jury also released one 45 for Atlantic under the name The Trav’lers. ”The Heart of Juliet Jones/ Shadow of Defeat” Atlantic 2398, 1967. The Atlantic record was released before the Colgems record. After that, this group seems to have disappeared. Too bad, both records are great.

(07/03/11)

THE ROBBS – ’Jolly Miller’ (Mercury LP SR 61130) Nov 1967

Third entry on my blog for The Robbs, this time around an album track called ’Jolly Miller’.

As far as I know ’Jolly Miller’ is a traditional folk song but the original composer is unknown. Dee Robb gets an ’arranged and adapted’ credit on the back of the LP.

The Robbs version is very experimental considering their normal songs are pleasant pop and folk rock. Their adaption is classy Byrdsian psychedelia with strange weird noises and sound effects. Bliss!!

(06/03/11)

GRAF ZEPPLIN – ’You’re In My Mind’/’Sunset’ (Orlyn 8140-4588) June 1968

This group of teenagers from Oak Park, Illinois formed in late 1966 and came up with the name Graf Zepplin after seeing a 1930 postage stamp commemorating the German aircraft. Drummer Dave Green mis-spelled zeppelin on his drumkit but fortunately the group stuck with Graf Zepplin (I think it looks cooler anyway).

In March 1968 Graf Zepplin won a Battle Of The Bands out on Navy Pier, Lake Michigan, their prize being some free recording time at Recordings Unlimited Studio in Chicago.

’You’re On My Mind’ written by farfisa organist Bob Blumenthal would have been a moody garage number but the sound engineer added some wild sound effects from an oscillator which completely transformed the song into a classic psych mindbender.

The flip ’Sunset’ is a mellow trippy folk ballad and quite charming it is too.

500 records were pressed and were given away to friends and sold at gigs. Copies are now sought after.

Line-up:
Gary Knaus – rhythm guitar
John Armour – lead guitar & lead vocals
Bob Blumenthal – farfisa
Bill Steed – bass
Dave Green – drums

(05/03/11)

LAVENDER HILL EXPRESS – ’Visions’/’Trying To Live A Life’ (Sonobeat RS 102) Dec 1967

Lavender Hill Express hailed from Austin, Texas and included in their ranks Jess Yaryan and Rusty Wier who came to prominence in Austin’s hottest group The Wig.

I can’t think of much flower pop coming out of Texas but ’Visions’ is a wonderful and elaborate sunshine groover with rich vocal harmonies and a string arrangement by the Austin Symphony Orchestra. The memorable harpsichord is played by arranger Richard Green.

The single was recorded in November 1967 and released in stereo just before Christmas.

(03/03/11)

THE UNDERGROUND – ’Satisfy’n Sunday’ / ’Easy’ (Mainstream 660) Dec 1966

Updated post from 28/10/08

Here’s a band that lives up to it’s name (ie) they’re so underground, they’re unknown and forgotten. If they were indeed remembered at all.

As for the ’sound’ on offer. Well both sides have that L.A folk rock backbeat with male/female vocals and harmonies. Think of typical bands of the era like The Peanut Butter Conspiracy and Yankee Dollar and you’ll form the pictures and hear the sounds in your minds of The Underground.

This 45 on Mainstream Records was sandwiched between releases on the label by The Wildflower ’Baby Dear’ (Mainstream 659) and Fever Tree ’I Can Beat Your Drum’ (Mainstream 661).

It also charted in some local areas reaching number 18 in Gary, Indiana in December 1966 and Top 20 in Akron, Ohio the following month.

A follow up single on Mainstream 667 titled ’Get Him Out Of Your Mind’ / ’Take Me Back’ sank without trace and The Underground were no more.

Readers comments:

The Underground were from Houston, TX. This was recorded at Andrus Studios around the same time as the Elevators were recording there.

Two more items on The Underground: Here’s a link to a music poll in the 2/12/67 edition of the Houston Post which confirms that The Underground were indeed from Houston.

Another link informs of a recording session by The Underground and indicates that one of their female singers was none other than future country star K.T. Oslin, who was then using the name Kay.

(02/03/11)

TOMMY ROE – ’Sweet Sounds’/’Moon Talk’ (ABC 45-10933) May 1967

Another two songs were extracted from the album ’It’s Now Winter’s Day’ and this single faired even worse than the previous one. ’Sweet Sounds’ did not dent the charts and so the amazing pop psych flip ’Moon Talk’ was probably heard be very few people.

’Moon Talk’ in my opinion is perfect lysergic lyte pop and one of the numerous examples of the incredible and esoteric production skills of Curt Boettcher. His studio work was on a higher elevation during the ’67-’68 period.

Tommy Roe was also fortunate to have stellar backing from guitarist Mike Deasy and session regulars Ben Benay, Toxie French and Jerry Scheff who later recorded the psychedelic Goldenrod LP.
Ballroom members Jim Bell and Michele O’Malley and future Millennium members Lee Mallory and Sandy Salisbury were also studio cohorts.

(25/02/11)

TOMMY ROE -’It’s Now Winters Day’/’Kick Me Charlie’ (ABC 10888) January 1967

Tommy Roe is probably best remembered for his hits like ’Hooray For Hazel’ and ’Sweet Pea’ but in late ’66 his eyes began to see day-glo colours, just like most musicians and performers and his new experimental sound is now considered to be soft psych heaven.

’It’s Now Winters Day’ written by Roe and produced by Our Productions (Curt Boettcher and Steve Clark) was taken from the album of the same name.

Sales were mediocre despite the lavish production and was regarded as a flop. The flip ’Kick Me Charlie’ dates from mid 1966 and is a harmonica driven rocker with some pounding bass and crunching guitar.

(24/02/11)

THE EPIC SPLENDOR – ’A Little Rain Must Fall’/’Cowboys And Indians’ (Hot Biscuit Disc Company 1450) Nov 1967

The Epic Splendor were probably a studio band put together by Capitol Records in New York to record and release music on their newly formed subsidiary label Hot Biscuit. ’A Little Rain Must Fall’ was a decent sized hit locally but it’s way too souly for my blog.

The flip ’Cowboys and Indians’ written by brothers John and Terence Boylan is a lyte psych pop song with some great trippy guitar and an unusual beat. It sounds like a bluesy The Lovin’ Spoonful.

The Boylan brothers recorded as The Appletree Theatre and John played in a later line-up of The Hamilton Streetcar.

(23/02/11)

THE NOVA LOCAL – ’If You Only Had The Time’/’Games’ (Decca 32138) May 1967

Decca Records had a lot of faith in teenage group The Nova Local offering them an album deal and taking out a full page colour advert in Billboard trade magazine in May 1967. A couple of singles were also released, ’If You Only Had The Time’ is on the long player but the flip ’Games’ is not.

By all accounts the group formed at Chapel Hill College in North Caroline and quickly established themselves on the local circuit but outside of NC they were virtually unknown.

’If You Only Had The Time’ is a delightful pop psych tune written and sung by Randy Winburn who now goes by the name Rand Winburn.

(22/02/11)

THE FIVE AMERICANS – ’7:30 Guided Tour’/’See-Saw Man’ (Abnak AB-126) Dec 1967

The Five Americans enjoyed enormous success with hit singles and albums in the mid 60s but outside USA they were virtually unknown. By the end of 1967 the music scene was getting experimental and progressive and their homage to The Beatles with the Sgt Pepperesque ’7:30 Guided Tour’ is a highlight.

The flip ’See-Saw Man’ sounds like it was a song from a much earlier period than that of ’7:30 Guided Tour’, which was recorded during November 1967. It has the distinctive Five Americans organ sound combined with strange rhythms and Monkees style background vocal harmonies.

The Five Americans have had two retrospective CD collections released on Sundazed over the years but ’See-Saw Man’ has never been featured. Maybe the mastertape has been lost?

(21/02/11)

THE CHILDREN – ’This Sporting Life’/’McIntosh’ (Dagonet DG-78) 1966

I’m almost certain this is the same group that recorded as The Offbeats and Somebody’s Chyldren because the writer of ’McIntosh’ is Paul Dobies and the label is Dagonet. I wrote about Somebody’s Chyldren last year.

’This Sporting Life’ is a garage take of Ian Whitcombe’s original. This one starts off slow then bursts into a Yardbirds type rave-up. I’ll leave this one for a future Cavestones.

The flip ’McIntosh’ is a lyte sing-a-long folk tune with trumpet. Strange and interesting in equal measure but not something the closed minds of the fuzz and farfisa crowd would have time for. That’s what makes my music blog different.

(20/02/11)

THE CITY ZU – ”Eeny Meeny” / ”Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast” (Dot 45-17166) Nov 1968

’Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast’ is a fast paced sitar sounding psychedelic rocker by The City Zu, a competent bunch of musicians from Bellevue, Washington. During their recording career they released three singles with this side being by far their most experimental.

As it seems with most of the records I’m spotlighting this month the best side just happens to be the neglected B-Side. This cut was produced by Ray Ruff who had previously worked with Fargo (’Sunny Day Blue’/’Robins, Robins’) and it was written by Los Angeles session guitarist Jerry Cole.

He had left his licks on many 60s hits and even cut his own psychedelic albums with groups he formed in ’66/’67 called The Id and The Animated Egg.

The Ray Ruff and Jerry Cole connection was further enhanced when they set up their own label in 1969 called Happy Tiger Records.

Readers comments:
Good post, but Jerry Cole and Ruff didn’t form Happy Tiger, they came in later, Ruff as a producer, Cole as a sideman and recording artist.

My sister worked with Doug Heath’s girlfriend in Bellevue in 65-66. She use to tell me about City Zu gigs at Lake Hills Roller Rink in Bellevue and The Happening in Downtown Seattle.

(20/02/11)

THE CANDYMEN – ’It’s Gonna Get Good In A Minute’/’Go And Tell The People’ (ABC 45-11141) Nov 1968

Alabama’s The Candymen are probably best known for being Roy Orbison’s backing band during the early to mid 60s but members John Rainey Adkins (lead guitar), Bob Nix (drums) and Billy Gilmore (bass) were tempted by their manager and producer Buddy Buie to start playing gigs and recording music in their own right. 

Dean Daughtry was hired to play keyboards and they recruited singer Rodney Justo who had previously been a member of  The Mystics from Tampa, Florida.

Several 45s and two albums were released on ABC Records, none of which were big hits, maybe ’Georgia Pines’ sold in quantity but that song just ain’t my scene. The majestic country psych jangle of  ’Go And Tell The People’ is easily their most experimental cut and was probably another piece of greatness lost on a B-Side.

My white label promo comes with a big X on the other side indicating to me that ’It’s Gonna Get Good In A Minute’ was likely the side the label wanted ’pushed’.

Either way, both sides are non LP and it’s the most difficult Candymen 45 to track down.

(19/02/11)

THE WIGGGS OF 1666 – ’Never’/’It Will Never Be The Same’ (Mercury 72527) January 1966

With a very strange name like The Wigggs Of 1666 I was expecting sonic bliss but what I got from the A-Side ’Never’ is tedium of the lowest order. I played this side once a few years ago and it turned the colours in my mind a darker shade of white. Really terrible folkie sounds with male/female vocals.

The flip ’It Will Never Be The Same’ is how it should be done. It appears that this square and unhip folk combo took a couple of drags on a strong spliff and got totally wired.

Information on The Wigggs Of 1666 is non existent. There is no mention in FA&F and BW Price Guide lists the record but does not provide a location. Both sides were produced by Hal Mooney, an experienced in-house arranger and producer for Mercury Records throughout the 60s.  

(16/02/11)

GEORGE EDWARDS – ’Norwegian Wood’/’Never Mind, I’m Freezing’ (Dunwich 45-117) March 1966

Here’s a pretty damned great folk rock 45 to collect by George Edwards, who at the time was a Chicago based folkie playing the local venues. He was in the right place at the right time and started working with Dunwich Records as a session musician and was involved in the early recordings of The Shadows Of Knight.

That connection enabled him to record and release this 45 as a solo artist. ’Norwegian Wood’ is his version of The Beatles classic but I’ll highlight ’Never Mind, I’m Freezing’ for my lyst.

The vocal delivery reminds me of Sal Valentino’s wavery takes and the folk rock backing is a highlight, especially the drums…pure greatness.

George Edwards (now known as Ethan Kenning) would later form H.P. Lovecraft and three of his songs recorded by them are absolute essential and perhaps my favourite Lovecraft trips ….’Mobious Trip’, ’Electrallentando’ and ’Wayfaring Stranger’.

(15/02/11)

THE CYRKLE – ’Penny Arcade’/’The Words’ (Columbia 4-44224) July 1967

By the time Columbia released ’Penny Arcade’ by New York based group The Cyrkle their hits had dried up and interest in them had waned to such a degree that members Don Dannemann and Tom Dawes, the writer of  ‘The Words’ would soon decide to quit, then change careers, direction, whatever you want to call it and start composing jingles for TV commercials.  

The flip of ’Penny Arcade’ is a neglected psychedelic pop nugget. ’The Words’….with it’s sumptuous folk rock 12 string jangle, sitar sounds and assorted studio trickery it’s most certainly a blissful pop psycher that earns it’s rightful place on my blog.

Reader comment:

Another killer track, that I was lucky to find a UK copy of in a junk shop 20 years ago. The Cyrkle went totally OTT on the track ”Nicole” on the Mynx soundtrack, sitars, backwards treated eastern guitars, a farfisa savagely abused and an all out freak out at the end!!! Total mayhem.

(14/02/11)

THE CRITTERS – ’A Moment Of Being With You’/’Good Morning Sunshine’ (Project 3 PR45-1326) 1968

The Critters recordings with Project 3 have been virtually ignored in preference to their folk rock and pop hits on Kapp. ’Mr Diengly Sad’, written by Don Ciccone will always remain their signature tune but their 1968 work with a vastly different line-up displays great assurance and technique. The vocal harmonies especially are amazing.

The sunshine harmony pop of the flip ’Good Morning Sunshine’ makes it into my lyte lyst. Incidentally, the song was written by original member Chris Darway but he was not part of the Project 3 version of The Critters. Maybe it was a song that they had held back from Kapp.

Only Jim Ryan on vocals and lead guitar and bassist Kenny Gorka remained from the original line-up, indeed they had also been part of The Vibratones from 1965 that eventually changed their name to The Critters.

personnel:

Jim Ryan (vocals/lead guitar)
Kenny Gorka (bass)
Jeff Pelosi (drums)
Bobby Spinella (organ)

I am a huge fan of the wonderful Critters. My favourite LP of theirs is ”Touch ‘N’ Go” and my two favourite tracks are ”A Moment Of Being With You” and ”Cool Sunday Morning”, although ”Good Morning Sunshine” is also very good.

(14/02/11)

THE ROBBS – ’Next Time You See Me’/’I Don’t Feel Alone’ (Mercury 72616) Sept 1966

’Next Time You See Me’ is a perfect example of what I’d call lyte pop, the tune is commercial and radio friendly and obviously aimed at the charts. Mercury tried hard to break the band nationally but of course that never happened.

Snuff Garrett’s production includes some backwards guitar. He had previous production credits with The Astronauts, The Briks and The Gypsy Trips.

(13/02/11)

THE ROBBS – ’Bittersweet’ / ’End Of The Week’ (Mercury 72641) Jan 1967

(Original review 31/05/08) 

I was doing a bit of internet surfing the other day and learnt that Dee Robb from The Robbs died in February 2008. It’s always sad for me when I read that 60s songwriters/musicians die. Fortunately their music will survive a lot longer.

Dee Robb was the lead singer and chief songwriter of Milwaukee band The Robbs. It turned out that The Robbs may have been one of the unluckiest bands of the mid to late 60s.

Although their 45s charted locally they never succeeded in achieving national acclaim because almost every one of their releases only reached the ’bubbling’ under section of The Billboard chart.

’Bittersweet’ was The Robbs third Mercury 45. On this disc the services of hot production team P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri were given control to perhaps push the band to the next level. After all, their songs had been big hits for The Grass Roots, The Turtles and The Searchers. Maybe none bigger than ’Eve Of Destruction’ made popular by Barry McGuire.

’Bittersweet’ is a magical folk-rock tune notable for it’s catchy chorus and pleasant Robbs harmonies. Surprisingly this song has only really ever been digitally compiled on my series of comps. Check it out on Cavestones #20..

A recent search on the Searchin’ For Shakes database reveals that The Robbs have no comp action apart from a cassette only release put out by Strange Things magazine back in 1990…On this they introduced ’Bittersweet’…I doubt if this cassette is around any more.

The flip of this 45 is a Dee Robb original titled ’End Of The Week’….this time around they go for a surf pop approach, similar in style to The Beach Boys’ more obscure surf moments. This song is non LP so well worth you getting a copy.

line-up:

David Donaldson (aka Dee Robb) guitar/vocals
Robert Donaldson (aka Bruce Robb) organ
George Donaldson (aka Joe Robb) guitar
Craig Krampf (aka Craig Robb) drums

bass duties was usually done by session players from Hollywood notably Larry Knetchel or Joe Osborn 

I used to see them perform at an Appleton beer bar, The Quarry, in the 60s. They were amazing. If I remember right they’d come out and do some warm up stuff then come back for a couple sets.

Dee, on a Rickenbacker (sometimes 12 string), Craig on the drums, Bruce on double base drums, and Joe on an amazing wooden organ (might have Bruce and Joe mixed up).

Super musicians and great sound!! Great lighting. Cool clothing. One set they’d wear motorcycle chain belts that they had gotten from the Milwaukee Outlaws. They were incredible in their original persona, before they got homogenized by big-time.

(13/02/11)

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